Friday, 18 December 2015

Lisa Gets Leaner | Spoonie Food - Hello Hungry Strawberry & Banana Liquid Meal

When it comes to food that involves no spoons to prepare, food in a bottle is totally the way forward. Smoothies are great but liquid meals? Brilliant. Hello Hungry liquid meals are marketed towards people who work long hours in front of a computer screen, with omega-3 to help with brain, vision and heart function. However, I believe it to be perfect for spoonies when blogging, working or just trying to function (it's great for Christmas shopping too ;)).

Each bottle is 330 ml, 215 kcal and contains Vitamins E, A, D, B6, B1, folic acid and omegas 3 and 6, which is great for fatigue. A vegan source of vitamin D is always welcome in my life, too. The bottles I have are Strawberry and Banana* flavoured – they also come in Mango, Spinach and Peach, and Tomato and Basil. Unlike a strawberry and banana smoothie, it doesn't really quite taste of strawberries and bananas, or particularly sweet for that matter. It doesn't taste at all bad, though, kind of how you'd expect a mix of green tea, almond milk, buckwheat flour, beetroot carrot and fruit juices and purees to taste – like a healthy smoothie! The texture is like a yoghurt and it is oddly brown in colour. I was expecting pink! It is recommended that you chill them before drinking but I have enjoyed them at room temperature so far, I feel no need to make them more pleasurable but will obviously be trying it out soon. For bonus points, the meals are vegan, lactose and gluten free, low in fat, and lack GMO ingredients and added sugar. Excellent!

As for being an actual, liquid meal, it really is! At 215 kcal it can serve as a small meal or a large snack. It really fills you up for a good few hours. I made the mistake of using it as part of a meal and felt the size of an elephant for a fair while afterwards! It's so convenient, too. Just unscrew the lid and sip/gulp away. You don't even have to chew! Good for spoonies, good for busy people, great for busy spoonies! I can see myself stocking up in preparation for summer at work – they're already coming in handy over the Christmas period.

As a pack of 8 bottles is currently £11.89 (at the time of writing) these are an absolute bargain. They stay good for a few months so you can keep them near your bed for days you are struggling, use them to get you through Christmas and new year, or try them out and see of they deserve a regular place in your life. It really is great to top-up your energy throughout the day or give you the boost you need to get out of bed, with added nutritional benefits. Awesome.

Do you know of any decent vegan liquid meals? Do let me know if you do!

*DISCLAIMER: This post contains a PR sample but my views are 100% honest. (I'm a rubbish liar).

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Spoonie Make-Up | Effortless Red Lips for Christmas


I don't know about you – but most of the time I either lack the energy or time to invest much effort in my make-up – especially over the holidays. Lipstick is great. It looks amazing. When Christmas comes along I want red lips all the time. All. The. Time. I have a bright red bold lip going on whilst I write this even though I don't plan on leaving the house for days. Unfortunately, lipstick is just too much effort, time and energy for me. You need lip liner, you need one layer, you need to blot, you need to powder, you need another layer, to blot, to powder, repeat... and then it all comes off anyway. You try to top it up quickly because you're at work or socialising and don't have the time to be carefully tending to your lips, and get it everywhere. Well, I do anyway.

With all this in mind, I reserve lipstick for special occasions. In the meantime and day-to-day grind, where time or energy elude me, I opt for products that can be applied and reapplied quickly and easily. Usually, they are not as bright as a lipstick, meaning they don't look as terrible when they fade, but also have enough pigment to say, “Hey, look! We're red! Christmas!”. Which is handy.

Like all Lush tip tints, this is hardly a tint – it's an almost opaque layer of colour that tastes of pure Christmas. It's a bright, warm-toned red which makes me want ginger hair (I always want ginger hair). I don't think it really suites me but it's perfect for Christmas day regardless. I applied some using the stick and my little finger for the edges before Wimbledon Zine Fair and was surprised a few hours later when I still had red lips! I'd been eating, drinking and talking and my lips still looked like Christmas! This is probably due to its matte finish. I really like it. The smell is so, so nice, too. 

This is the easiest product to apply and my go-to early shift lip product. Because it's the most sheer and it's a crayon, it's hard to go wrong. Just draw some on your lips and smush it around. While being sheer, the red is definitely on your lips. It's good for when you want a more subtle red lip. You can easily build it up in one application, but I tend to whack it on, let it settle and come off onto a straw after a drink or two before adding more. This way it leaves a stain for the rest of my shift if it does wear off again, and looks good if it doesn't. It is unscented, but has that classic lipstick/make-up smell. This reminds me of ballet and makes me happy.

Barbara Daly Make-Up Lip Melts Sheer Lip Colour in Cherry Bomb
(Recently re-branded, similar here.)

Also a crayon, this is super quick and easy to apply. Just draw it on and colour your lips in. A quick, single blot can help, but if not just apply it thinner with the help of your finger. This way there is less to come off when drinking, being clumsy or blowing your nose. Although it is balmy in texture and sheer it has much more pigment than the Jumbo Gloss Stick. It's a bright, sexy, red with a hint of glitter. In some lights it looks warm-toned, and in other it looks cool. Confusing. I find one layer provides plenty of colour and even if some wears off, it's still there. This also moisturises your lips and tastes like apricots! Super rad.

And, if you have the time...

Makeup Revolution London Salvation Velvet Lip Lacquer in Keep Trying For You

This one takes a little more effort, and a little bit of drying time, but once it's done, it's done. Making it easy. You have to apply it carefully to get the shape right, and wait for it to dry. If you have the spoons to prepare your lips with a scrub, concentrate on the application and possibly have to clean up, it's definitely worth doing. The doe foot applicator does make it easier to be precise. Like a good, proper, liquid lipstick, dries matte and stays put for hours. I'd recommend keeping your lips conditioned well in-between applications as it may dry them out - but while it's on your lips feel really velvety which is awesome. The shade is a bright, slightly warm red. It's glorious. Other shades of red are available from the Makeup Revolution website. As they cost £3 I feel I may have quite the collection ready for next Christmas! 

I hope this has provided inspiration for the spoonless who desire a Christmassy red lip! Do you have any products that make it easier? Please let me know in the comments if you do!

Big red-lipped kisses!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Life | My Confusing Fatigue Syndrome; Why I'm a Spoonie


This is something I have to explain so, so often, and has recent developments which involve more explaining - so I thought I just whack it here to refer people to. I don't have relevant pictures, so have dogs from my Instagram.

A long time ago, in a galaxy called the Milky Way, a lady named Lisa almost passed out during her second yoga pose of the day. This was not normal. She mentioned it to her doctor during a routine check up, and ended up having a good old conversation about fatigue. It became apparent that she was suffering from chronic fatigue, and she believed it was likely she had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This didn't come as much of a shock to Lisa as some of her friends have ME and had mentioned she might have it. She had very little energy, mental or physical exertion exhausted her beyond reason and she took ages to recover from, well, anything.

Diagnosis for ME/CFS is a matter of elimination. They give you a gazillion blood tests for everything that can cause fatigue and rule out anything it can be. As these all came back negative I was referred to the local ME/CFS clinic. It also means it isn't caused by my veganism - suck on that, ignoranuses :P.

After weeks of waiting, my assessment at the clinic came. I had a long, detailed chat with a specialist. My long history of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety chronic insomnia and anger issues causing sleep deprivation seemed to be a big factor in why I was diagnosed with exhaustion whenever a year of uni ended. I wasn't, however, allowed to rest after these diagnoses as I had a job and a mother who didn't tolerate "laziness". Not resting is something I've become very good at. Overworking, too. So to the specialist, the fatigue came on in a very logical way, over a long period of time. As the diagnostic criteria back then required a sudden onset, this wasn't looking good for a diagnosis. He actually said that having eating disorders in the past meant he couldn't diagnose me, too. Which is bullshit. As I had suffered a sexual assault a while before this assessment, he decided I was being affected by PTSD (while I actually had RTS - a complex form of PTSD) enough to be causing fatigue to some extent. Which was also bullshit because I hardly had any symptoms and was 99% fine. I dealt with the symptoms that came really damn well. He diagnosed me with Sleep Deprivation and PTSD and made me sought the same pacing counselling they'd offer me for CFS, and gave me a run-down of the Graded Exercise Therapy they'd also offer me, so I could give it  DIY bash. So basically I lived the life of CFS without officially having CFS. Yay.

My doctor knew the PTSD diagnosis was a load of tripe as much as I did. She believes they just bounced me back with that diagnosis because I didn't tick every box and they're not very good. She decided to refer to it as chronic fatigue and I do the same, but it confuses people. It became so much easier to say "I basically have ME" or "It's like ME" because more people know what that is and saves the huge explanation of ... all of the above. When it came to tagging online, I would use chronic illness and chronic fatigue but would also include ME and CFS in them, as people with those diagnoses could relate. I've also joined groups on Facebook where ME/CFS support each other purely because they're the only people who make me feel like I am not alone. They get it. Our lives are very much the same and I need support, a lot. Since I have been writing this blog though, I have been worrying about people thinking I have it when I don't, or thinking I'm lying, or have diagnosed myself. Driving me to push for a second opinion, especially as my mental health has actually been fine, for years, and the fatigue isn't really going anywhere. In fact, it's the only thing that fucks up my mental health when it gets really bad - this is only for a few minutes at a time though. Thank god. My doctor even prescribes me painkillers for "ME Pain", I've seen it on her system. She knows more about it than any GP I've ever even heard of. All the local ME/CFS patients have her - she's awesome. The whole thing has been confusing my brain though.

Lately I have developed symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Now, up-to-date CFS research agrees that a gradual onset of symptoms is a thing. The diagnostic criteria is like a complete description of my life. The fatigue was explainable once, but now? It's been getting worse and so
is bit harder to explain away. IBS is such a typical development of ME/CFS and to me and my doctor, I have such a textbook case of it. This has been driving me round the bend for months, now. I just need a diagnosis, any diagnosis, of a real illness. I don't know whether I'm allowed to drive, give blood, what to put on official documents, anything. So, last week, my doctor and I decided to start the diagnostic process again and I had blood tests for anything and everything that could be picked up and cause fatigue.

Now, here's a fun thing - I have an underactive thyroid! Yay! This is TREATABLE. They can actually give me drugs that do things my body can't anymore. Fantastic. My doctor did say that it was the beginning signs of it, however, and as it wasn't picked up last time I went though all of this, it probably doesn't explain the fatigue full stop, but is something. It might explain why the fatigue has been worse lately. Which would be great. If I can get back to the baseline of activity that doesn't ruin me that I was at this time last year I will be stoked! Of course, this means no referral to the ME/CFS clinic, which is quite nice, really. She doesn't has much faith in them, which worries me. It took a long time of good mental health for her to let me take the on again!

If I have the same issues when we get the treatment for that sorted, then I may well be on my way back there. For now, though, I have something we can treat. Which is amazing. Let's hope Thyorixine helps! :)

So there you have it. Years of little spoons without being in the proper diagnosis club explained!
I hope it makes as much sense as it can. Thank you for reading this,

Big love,

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Music | Shimmy In The Shower - DBPOWER Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker


Told you I'd be back soon. I may be here to solve the problem of what to get the music-loving teenager in your life, I am here to rave in excitement about this product:

The DBPOWER IPX5 Waterproof Bluetooth V4.0 Speaker*. I love technology. I'm not very good at it, I never understand it, but I do love it. I recently welcomed this nifty little piece of kit into my life and now I can dance and sing in the shower – properly. Until now I just had my own brain for entertainment and that usually involves a verse and a chorus of various songs here and there when I'm not concentrating too much on washing, not passing out or gender politics. Back in the day I'd bring my little CD player into the bathroom and blare out my pop punk when in the bath. We never had a working shower - now we do and I can include music in that and actually hear it properly! Woohoo!

I was so confused about how a speaker – something full of holes, could be waterproof, I am just pleasantly surprised that it is. It really is. I first used it in the shower, positioned like so:

...and it survived! I had music in the shower to shimmy on down to. The sound was really clear and could've gone louder than I needed it. Very impressed. The music did sound a little muffled and muted at one point, which panicked me, thinking I'd broken it. Turns out the speaker bit of... the speaker? - the bit where the sound actually comes out, was almost covered in water because it had fallen from its propped-up position to a horizontal one. Phew. I poured the water off and it the sound was amazing again. Happy Lisa. I am so, so happy with this. It's magical.

From now on my showers can look like this! Rather than the boring affair they usually are - especially if I'm bothering to shave my legs, zzzz. It will also make the long process of rinsing henna dye out of my hair more fun when I finally brave dying my hair. The notorious effort of rinsing it out has put me off for ages, but this seems to be the solution to that!

The speaker is advertised as great for outdoor use and while I haven't tried this yet, I think it would work really well. I shall definitely be volunteering it for use at parties and during the summer in the pub garden at work. As it has a 12 hour playtime, it'll be great to add background music to any situation.

It's such a powerful little thing, performs really well, and is well and truly waterproof! It's easy to use - just charge it via USB, chuck some music and/or audiobooks onto your phone and Bluetooth it up! A play/ pause/ on/ off button, and buttons to change track or adjust the volume if you hold them down are found on the side of the device. You can insert an SD card of audio files into it and use it like an MP3 player, or as a hands-free kit as it has a built-in microphone. Instructions are included, of course. 

You can find out more here, and if you want to buy one you can get 10% off with this magical code: CP9KRB7A. Just pop it in at the checkout where it says "Gift cards & promotional codes" and click "Apply". 

Do you have any pieces of tech that add a little bit of magic and joy into your life? If any of them involve transforming my time in the kitchen do let me know!

*DISCLAIMER: This post contains PR sample but my views are 100% honest. (I'm a rubbish liar).

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Life | Where Have I Been?


I'm still alive, look:

Sorry I've been so absent from blogging! I've been so fatigued from the painting + housework + work combination that was October that writing has been too hard for my brain to achieve! I covered this briefly in my last update but will go into more detail in the future... if I ever get the energy to finish that blog post!

Basically, I was doing far more than I should for a few weeks, then didn't have any real time to recover, so booked some holiday from work to rest. Like the dufus I am I booked this the week before Wimbledon Zine Fair, which meant lots of copying and folding zines. I also thought I should take advantage of time off to visit my boyfriend in Exeter for a few days. In my head, I'd go and chill lots, but ended up going out for food and drinks and needing to shop and all sorts of life things and not resting an awful lot. I didn't rest an awful lot at all during my time off. That was dumb. So, naturally, I'm exhausted.

I have, however, been working on a few blog posts and have plenty of ideas and have lots of things I'm excited about to share with you all (like the lip product in the picture! It's Strawberry Bombshell from Lush and is great for an effortless lip colour to fake healthy!). For the next month or so though, posts may be a little sporadic. I am sure after some rest, however, and more structure in my life again (currently job hunting as I am not getting enough hours at my current job - uggggh) posts will be regular here, again, and everything bloggy will be hunky-dory. I have set myself deadlines so you definitely be seeing posts this month and next!

Hope you are all enjoying the run up to Christmas. I started on the Christmas music today ^-^ .. is it too early? When do you start delving into festive fun?

Monday, 2 November 2015

A Sober Halloween!

Hey there, ghosts and ghouls!

Hope you've all had a fantabulous Halloween - I've been loving seeing everyone's costumes! I really, really didn't want to go out and get drunk with a bunch of acquaintances this year - it feels a bit overdone. Now I have friends who actually bother with me and don't need to drink to have fun,  I decided to harass them. Luckily, we all wanted to stay in, carve pumpkins, watch spooky films and greet trick or treaters. Yay!

Xena* and I decided to carve some pumpkins the day before Halloween as, well, we both had time and PUMPKINS! While I had already purchased pumpkins a week before, they were far too heavy to cart around so we headed to the shops to get more. There were only two little ones and one larger, yucky one left in Co-op. Definitely getting them earlier next year!

The two we found were lovely, though.

Naturally I had to bring an air of immaturity to the whole event.

This is the first pumpkin I have carved in so long I can't even remember! Now I want to carve them all. For those less accustomed to Pokémon, it is the face of Gengar, one of the ghost types.

Here he is with Xena's bat all lit up! How rad do they look?! I'm so proud of myself.  We ate the bits we cut out and phwoarrr, pumpkin!

This was followed by another fruitless pumpkin hunt and late night stroll along the beach with Argo. 
After deciding whose house to use on Halloween, I got into my costume. After years of zombifying myself up because I'm so damn punk-rock, I thought it was time for a change.

Having just finished I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett and his last book being published this year, and it being a Tiffany Aching book - I thought it quite apt to dress as the young witch I love so much.

It just so happens that the only minty-green dress I have is the one that is part of my weight loss saga. I think it's safe to say it fits now, so hurrah for that!

A frying pan was clearly needed for the photos. 

I even got myself a hare necklace! 

As I'd managed to cart my pumpkins over, Xena's daughter joined in with the carving (not that we didn't let her the day before, she just wasn't there). 

Really, really well, I might add. It's not Halloween without the pumpkin king! I did a cyberman and creeped myself out.

Then she creeped us all out!

 Best windowsill is Purbeck!

Though there were only three of us, it was definitely a party, and what's a party without cake? I decided to try the Betty Crocker Devil's Food Mix + can of coke trick and to no surprise at all - it worked.

I did add food colouring to make it all gross and Halloweny-looking when it was in the tin, but then forgot to line the tin. This meant the top turned into the bottom and the cake was stuck together with icing. 

It's a really good. cake.

Once the trick or treaters had stopped coming, and the pumpkins were carved, we played Wii Party. It never sounds like much but it is so much fun and I thoroughly enjoyed this Halloween completely sober! We didn't watch any films but Wii Party's Board Game Island was way more fun. 

What did you do for Halloween? And more importantly; what did you wear?! 

Big love,

*Name has been changed.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Art | Wimbledon Zine Fair 2015 Poster

Hey, guys!

The world of art and creativity has stolen me and made me super ill, but look! A poster!

Zine fairs are great places! Zines are great. Libraries are great. You should come if you can - we can hang out! And eat sweets. And discover brilliant self-published magazines! When SW Zines contacted me inviting me to sell at this event I was humbled and excited as I love these things. I was then asked of I could make a poster so absolutely had to! It's been nice to draw for someone purely because they love my style and not because I can draw. It did take its toll on my fatigue though.

As has another arty farty project. If you want to find out more about this part of my life (that seems to be slowly making a comeback after a bit of a hiatus) I do have a blog for it here. You can also click on the picture above to get there.

For now, though, I must try to get back to normal life complete with rest (YAY!) and actual money. 


Sunday, 11 October 2015

Arthur and Argo - A Love Story


Sorry I've been so quiet - explanation here. Your life can't be that exciting where walking up the road from you house counts as an adventure. I stomped some ground I used to trample over daily but haven't been to for a while. It was nice. Photographs were taken. So here is a blog post.

This is Argo*. She came to see me on my day off with her human mum, Xena.*

After playing lots of fetch and drinking tea, we decided to take a little stroll. Luckily, it involved lots of rests and sitting down.

This teenage cow was very intrigued by Argo - and us, for that matter. Let's call him Arthur.

He tried ever so hard to say hello, but Argo was intimidated by him being 300 times bigger than her.

His friend tried, too. But failed. 

Arthur, however, got closer and closer. Determined to figure out what this big-eared creature was all about.

"You things look like the things that feed me, but this tiny cow? Fascinating!"

Then, finally, he got to have a good old sniff. They even kissed! It was a story of true passion and romance. Though... I got an Arthur kiss too, so maybe it's a story of fidelity. Sorry, Argo.

We soon entered a field of hay bales. Xena jumped right onto one while I stayed on the ground. Just the thought of jumping and climbing exhausted me.

When the following field turned out to have hay bales too, I actually ended up on top of one. Xena did her best impression of a step, and I climbed her to the top of the bale!

It felt so good to have done something that I thought I couldn't because of my illness. Friends are rad.

Argo joined me. She loves to put her paws on your lap and her face in your face. It's adorable.

It was a lovely afternoon out in the sun, with good conversation, stellar company and the refreshment of being outside. Huge thanks to Xena and Argo for bothering with me - not many people do these days (life with a chronic illness is not a hugely social one!). It's nice to see people in a situation that doesn't involve a bar, especially outside in the sun. I live in a such a beautiful area, it's ace to actually be out in it from time to time! That said, being anywhere but work or my house is exciting these days.

My mother has returned from her holiday, so I should have more spoons for blogging again. Once that gert painting is finished, things here will be back to normal. Hope you are all swell! Have you ever kissed a cow?

*Names have been changed to protect my buddies.
**Xena is a definitely a pumpkin, though.